Best Way to Use Apple TV 4

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Best Way to Use Apple TV 4

Apple TV 4’s user interface can be used in a variety of ways. This article presents the fastest, most efficient and best way to use Apple TV 4.

Apple products used to be simple. Critics often pointed out that there was only one way to accomplish a task with a Macintosh or iPhone. Over time, Apple products have evolved. Their operating systems are much more flexible, offering a variety of ways to interact with the user interface. Apple TV 4 is no exception. tvOS can be used in a traditional menu-driven way. There’s also a better and more efficient way to use Apple TV 4.

Menu Driven User Interaction is Inefficient

Menu based user interfaces are old, ingrained patterns. Most of us grew up using computers featuring menu driven user interfaces. For example, Windows is a menu based user interface. Users launch apps using icons, which are literally like the pictographic menus found in diners. Browsing for files, settings and system resources is also accomplished with menus.

If you’re old enough (or very geeky), you’ve probably used command-line computing. This is far more efficient than menu-driven computing. Most Unix commands are two characters, which can be entered faster than opening, scanning and selecting from a menu. Menu-oriented computing came about because it was difficult to learn terminal commands. As computers became more powerful, on-screen graphics presented contextual operations to the user. If you click on a hard drive, the user interface shows you the contents of the drive. There’s a tradeoff between speed and ease of use.

Command prompts still haven’t been replaced. If you own a Mac, some of the more powerful features can only be invoked using Terminal. Some of the best software developers I know don’t use graphical integrated development environments (IDEs), such as Eclipse and Xcode. They write their code in text editors like Vi or Emacs and compile it from the command line. They do this because it’s faster. Most IDEs are quite slow and actually impede great developers. IDEs offer lots of menus and graphical tools so that developers don’t have to learn or memorize anything. Software development is still difficult, but less talented developers can poke around in an IDE and create something that functions (but probably isn’t optimal).

This may seem like a bit of a tangent. What do command prompts and software development have to do with Apple TV? Most people just want to watch Netflix. The point is that there’s a better way to use Apple TV. Most people use Apple TV in an inefficient way. They navigate icons on the Home Screen to launch apps. They drill down into screens of settings every time they need to make a small change. I can’t blame them. Menu-driven user interfaces are so ingrained in our lives. I also used Apple TV 4 like this for almost a year. To be fair, tvOS 9 was buggy and using the menus, closing apps and restarting were necessities.

Upgrade to tvOS 10

tvOS 10 is a major improvement over its predecessor. The previous version of tvOS was embarrassingly bad. There were severe defects, such as screen flickering. I found myself having to restart my Apple TV regularly. If I didn’t constantly close apps, the whole operating system would slow down. Siri misinterpreted half of my requests. I applaud Apple for cutting out tvOS 10 features, such as single sign-on with cable providers, in order to release a quality product. Since upgrading to tvOS 10, I haven’t experienced any serious defects. It has finally allowed me to use Apple TV the easy way.

You can upgrade tvOS by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software. If you have Automatically Update turned on, your Apple TV 4 should be running tvOS 10 or later. You can check the version from the Software Updates screen. It is displayed under the image of the Apple TV base unit.

I recommend turning off Automatically Update. Although tvOS 10 is a solid release, Apple sometimes puts out flawed software updates. Not so long ago, many people had their Apple TVs “bricked” by version 6.0 of the Apple TV operating system. I do update apps automatically, but not tvOS. It’s always best to wait a few days before upgrading. Make sure to do a Google search for any problems with the new version of tvOS. (continue…)

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